Some Delaware School Districts Say They Are Facing a Bus Driver - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Some Delaware School Districts Say They Are Facing a Bus Driver Shortage

Posted: 08/18/2017 07:34:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del.- Some Delaware School Districts say they are facing a shortage of bus drivers, less than two weeks away from the start of the school year for many students.

Sharon Almondo, transportation manager for the Smyrna School District, said a shortage of drivers could affect multiple routes, which could lead to delays or longer bus trips for some students.

Almondo, who said she plans to drive a bus at the onset of the school year to help things run smoothly, said pay is an issue for many drivers, who work in a part-time capacity. Although she would like to see drivers get paid more, Almondo said the district's hands are tied because of the formula used by the state to dole out transportation money for contractors.

"The economy is getting better, so they're going out and getting full-time jobs and medical. They have the benefits. That's where the drivers are going," she said.

Duane Hendricks, whose family runs a contracting service near the border with Maryland in Kent County, said many contractors are running into issues with retaining and attracting drivers.

In addition to the issue of pay, Hendricks said the process of obtaining a commercial driving license is difficult, which discourages potential drivers from pursuing the job.

"The drivers, for all the accountability that they have and the lives they carry, deserve a lot more money than what they're getting today," he said.

Bruce Ashby, the transportation manager for the Capital School District, said things are OK from a district-wide level but has heard from contractors about issues with their buses.

Ashby said bus drivers typically make what equates to about $16 an hour. That rate, he said, is less than similar jobs people can have with similar qualifications.

"Anybody that's driving a dump truck or a trash truck, they're making between $20 or $30 an hour and a bus driver is not getting anywhere near that," he said.


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